Remittances are the shining light of development policy. While debate rages in austerity-hit Western capitals about spending on aid, remittances cost tax-payers nothing. Remittances to developing countries are worth nearly half a trillion dollars – that’s three times the level of aid – and they’re rising fast, quadrupling since the turn of the century. And remittances work. It’s hard to imagine a more efficient targeting system than people sending money home to their own families and the facts bear that out; remittances are linked to improved economic, health and education outcomes. And as if those benefits weren’t enough, remittances are a huge driver of financial inclusion, acting as a gateway to banking for the people sending and receiving them.
Experts agree that the institutional frameworks for addressing migration, displacement and relocation in the context of environmental change are not well articulated. There is overall a lack of understanding of good practices in planned relocations and preventive resettlement. Moreover, most of the experiences studied so far have proved quite negative. Appropriate governance responses need to distinguish between rapid- and slow-onset events and take into account the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the community involved. There is also need for institutional frameworks capable of providing support to those who are not able or willing to leave the affected region and, therefore, remain behind. A symposium organized by KNOMAD’s Thematic Working Group (TWG) on Environmental Change and Migration in 2014 concluded: “a mapping exercise that identifies effective mechanisms for cooperation and coordination among different ministries and agencies would provide guidance to governments and international organizations as they move ahead in developing adaptation strategies involving human mobility.”
Call for Proposals
The TWG on Environmental Change and Migration plans to commission one or more papers that improve understanding of existing and new institutional frameworks addressing internal and international migration in the context of environmental change. The papers will be distributed widely, including for circulation at upcoming events such as the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Global Forum on Migration and Development, and the World Humanitarian Summit.
Table 1: Migrants and outward remittances in GCC countries, 2013
The Diaspora Investment Alliance (formerly the Rockefeller Foundation-Aspen Institute Diaspora Program), a program of the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., has undertaken a diaspora outreach series over the past year to investigate willingness and barriers to investing and/or donating back home. A major finding was that both willingness and barriers to doing so are high among diasporas. Consequently, if effective and efficient avenues to facilitate diaspora impact investing or donating were readily available, many individuals would use them. The starting point is thus an understanding of the reasons why migrants may decide not to invest in origin country development, even when they have both the desire and capacity to do so. Here are some of the major barriers to origin country investment and philanthropy expressed by diaspora communities.
Lack of Information and Transparency
Diasporans often do not have sufficient information on impact investment or donation options to make informed decisions. When it comes to investments, the costs of sourcing and vetting deals are often prohibitive for individual investors, particularly in markets with a lack of credit bureaus. On the donation side, there is an abundance of options – for instance, there are over 3,000 certified NGOs in the Philippines and over 7,000 registered NGOs in Kenya – yet there are no third party ratings (e.g., Charity Navigator) of these agencies.